the first barcelona day

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Yesterday, I woke up early and rattled around on my computer while J slept. A sickness of some kind had her by the stomach and wouldn’t let go, so she stayed in bed until early afternoon. When she got up, we had a homemade lunch of paella with O’s parents and grandfather. Then we headed into the magical land of Barcelona’s city center.

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We left the station at Passeig de Gràcia. I saw Casa Batlló, jumped up and down because WHOO, recognizable landmark! And then my friend said, “Hey, Desigual,” and I was lost to the embrace of my favorite clothes. …In my defense, Casa Batlló and I are good friends and it understands my material needs outside the reach of history and culture.

We walked up and down the street, basking in the afternoon sunlight and wandering in and out of high-end stores. I wanted to revisit La Rambla, the famous shopping street, but my familiarity with Barcelona is more “I know that building! Where are we?” than, “If we walk down this road we will be heading toward that place.” As we left Zara, I asked the security guard where La Rambla was and, smiling warmly, he told us it was close by and gave some directions in smooth, accented English.

We meandered, found that fountain in the photo up there, visited another Desigual, and then it was time to meet our friend O. We took the subway to Joanic and walked around the neighborhood there. I felt drawn in and amazingly calmed by the area. The street lights in Barcelona are all burnt orange and cast this beautiful glow down on the streets and sidewalks below. We sat on a bench a square where some musicians were playing music.

As we sat and talked, I noticed two girls sitting on the bench behind ours. They were talking quietly and, as J later told me, they said, “Are they American?” and then, “The middle one is Spanish, we can ask her,” and then the blonde one stood up and circled around and asked O for a light in Spanish. Once her cigarette was lit, she said thank you and returned to her own bench.

Both girls kept glancing at us, so I starting paying more attention to them. To my pleasant surprise, they seemed to be a couple. One of the girls was leaning her head on the other girl’s shoulder, and giving her teasing kisses. I’ve gotten used to cultural norms in Japan, where public displays of affection between heterosexual couples are very, very rare, so to see a same-sex couple so comfortable with each other in public warmed my heart.

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O took us to one of her favorite restaurants, a really homey place right next to a theater.

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Books everywhere, and the bartender/waiter was both really sweet and friendly.

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This was the low point of the day/night. J wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to head back to O’s place early (well, early for Spain – it was around nine or ten when we got on the train). We got on the wrong train and ended up at this terminal. J vomited her guts out in the station bathroom for a while, and then we slowly made our way back to O’s.

Poor J is still suffering the effects of…something. We’re not sure if it’s food poisoning or just a really, really bad bug. She’s going to spend the day resting in bed while I go off and have my hair reshaped and recolored into a masterpiece of magnificence. That’s the plan.

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